COVID-19 makes first year of high school more difficult

In+front+of+a+backdrop+marred+by+a+pandemic+and+political+turmoil%2C+some+of+Sunny+Hills%27+newest+class+of+freshmen+have+struggled+to+adapt.+

Karen Lee

In front of a backdrop marred by a pandemic and political turmoil, some of Sunny Hills’ newest class of freshmen have struggled to adapt.

Hannah Lee

Names have been changed for anonymity.

With the arrival of the holiday season comes the cheerful atmosphere of festivities like shopping for gifts, decorating Christmas trees or baking holiday treats.

Many express their excitement for the upcoming celebrations on Dec. 25 — a day bound to be full of family, food and happiness.

However, some lie at the opposite end of the spectrum; one that is not addressed nearly enough.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health, and this holiday season may end up triggering several problems for individuals struggling with stability.

Although freshman Jane Smith was diagnosed with depression in late 2019 before the March 2020 shutdown of schools and non-essential businesses, the COVID-19 crisis didn’t help ease her mental well-being.

“Quarantine has affected my mental health in both a positive and negative way,” Smith said. “But staying with your family 24/7 is not very fun, especially when you have an overbearing parent [who] thinks mental illnesses are just a thing of the moment and will go away soon enough.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the pandemic has elevated stress and anxiety among both children and adults, and more than a quarter of surveyors have reported trauma and stressor-related disorder symptoms related to COVID-19.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried,” another anonymous freshman source said. “My coping mechanisms are limited, but I’m thankful for such supportive people around me.”

AP Psychology and AP U.S. History teacher Greg Abbott agrees that the struggles of the pandemic may contribute to diminishing mental health, stating that teaching in real life is more preferred than distance learning.

“I have been impressed with the resiliency of my students,” Abbott said. “To handle this new reality we find ourselves in, we all will have to find comfort and stability in this world that is amazing in so many ways but destabilizing all the while.”

This story also appeared in the Dec. 14 print issue, which can be read here.